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Queens Chronicle

Maspeth-Woodside Rezoning Gets Borough Board Approval

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Posted: Thursday, March 9, 2006 12:00 am

A plan to rezone a wide swath of Woodside and Maspeth got the approval of the Queens Borough Board this week.

A review by the City Planning Department and the approval of the City Council are now the only thing standing in the way of the plan, which would downzone more than 100 residential blocks while allowing more high rises along Queens Boulevard.

The proposal covers an area bounded by the Long Island Expressway on the south and Roosevelt Avenue on the north. The New Calvary and Mt. Zion cemeteries mark the eastern boundaries of the rezoning, while the Long Island Rail Road tracks mark the western edge. A total of 130 blocks are part of the plan.

The overall goal of the rezoning is to preserve as much of the area as possible as a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes, according to Planning Department officials.

Much of the area that is now zoned R4, which allows all types of residences, would be rezoned to either R4-1, which allows detached and semidetached one- and two-family homes, or R4B, which is similar to R4-1 but with more stringent height restrictions.

Several blocks near New Calvary Cemetery that are now zoned R6, which allows for apartment buildings with no set height restriction, would be changed to R5, a zone that sets the maximum building height at 40 feet.

The other major change would be rezoning the entire Queens Boulevard corridor between Woodside and Maspeth as R7X, a designation that allows high-rise apartment buildings. Currently only a few blocks around the Big Six Towers between 61st and 59th streets have that designation.

That zoning allows for residential buildings up to 125 feet high with ground-floor retail. Parking would be required.

That proposed change sparked concern from some residents, who worried the additional high-rise housing would lead to overburdening local schools and transportation services.

However, Joseph Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, said the new zoning would draw off high-density development from the surrounding neighborhoods to the new zone, which is currently mostly occupied by auto-related businesses.

The proposed change would also be on the north side of Queens Plaza, close to subway stations and bus stops, he said.

In the interest of speeding up the process, which began six years ago, both community boards 2 and 5 waived the usual 60-day waiting period between the Planning Department approval and their own votes on the plan. Community Board 5 approved the proposal Feb. 8, while Community Board 2 approved it Feb. 2.

Conley and Vincent Arcuri Jr., chairman of Community Board 5, also asked that the resolution include a request that the City Council do away with “infill” provisions in the current zoning law.

Infill zoning, originally created to encourage the development of vacant lots, allows larger-than-usual buildings on empty properties. It is not allowed in the new R4A zones. “If the infill was gone, half of the rezonings in Queens would be unnecessary,” Arcuri said.

Welcome to the discussion.